The Scottish Games Network has become the new trade body for the games industry in Scotland.
Speaking to Develop, SGN founder Brian Baglow said the organisation will be a not-for-profit trade body created for all companies and institutions involved in games in the country, from developers and publishers to colleges and universities.
A membership fee will be charged for each organisation that joins.
Baglow, who formed SGN in 2007 as community hub and focal point for the Scottish game industry, said a local trade body was needed to help provide real data on the shape of the Scottish game industry, as well as helping to promote events and organise special initiatives between developers, educational institutes and government bodies.
He said the first order of business for SGN would be working with companies in the region’s ever-growing sector – which now has over 90 games companies - on the key topics and challenges they face, as well as raising its profile to other local business and organisations.
“There are a lot organisations out there who really interested in doing more with the game sector and kind of need somebody in place who understands who's out there, who can help, and all that kind of thing. So I've decided this really has to be where I go next,” he said.
Baglow also said the trade body would be open to everyone in the industry, and was keen to bring more cohesiveness to the Scottish game sector as it looks to grow and build on successes such as Rockstar North’s blockbuster hit GTA V.
“The whole point is this is not something that's going to be exclusive or isolationist. We've got way too much of that,” he said.
“One of the reasons I’m doing this is because we've got all these big organisations, but there seems to be little communication or overall strategy going on. And I think that's sorely needed. So it's designed to be as open and inclusive as possible.
“It's not just going to be the development companies. I'm looking for anyone that's game related, all the colleges, all the universities. You know, everyone knows about Abertay, but we've actually got four universities producing game design and game development graduates. We've got five colleges doing HNCs and HNDs in game development.”
Three’s a crowd?
The UK game industry already comprises of two trade bodies in UKIE and Tiga, and there have already been numerous calls in the past for a single trade organisation to represent developers.
UKIE’s chairman Andy Payne recently expressed an interest in a possible merger with Tiga at its AGM, stating the current situation meant the industry only had “half our voice, half our power”.
A spokesman for Tiga has distanced the trade body from such calls however, and said that while it was “flattered by their continued admiration” for the organisation, its stance hasn’t changed since the last time talks broke down in 2011.
So is there a need for a third trade body? Baglow said he was not looking to replicate effort of other organisations or to create any confusion or conflict, but rather to help create a trade body specifically for Scottish issues, and one that could even support UKIE and Tiga on UK-wide issues by providing local industry data.
“I have been talking to both of them, and from the outset about this. I'm not trying to step on their toes or replicate effort or in any way take away from what they're doing. They're doing fantastic work,” he said.
“But what I'm focusing on are the specific differences in Scotland. So, if its tax breaks, the issues of piracy, advocacy of the UK as a whole, absolutely I want to help. And hopefully what I can do is feed into both the organisations and say here’s all the data that you need. You've now got a resource in Scotland that you can use.
“So it's not in any way becoming a third trade organisation to muddy the waters yet further. The last thing we need is yet another body going 'oh it's just us, and we only talk to the people who are members of us'. We're not doing that at all. I just want to try and help everybody, and that includes UKIE and Tiga, and all the big organisations up here, and the Scottish government, and the Scottish parliament.
“So it's designed to try and help and make things easier and make things better for everyone, rather than muddy the waters even further.”
For more information on the Scottish Games Network, visit the official website.